Virgin Galactic has taken the wraps off a concept for an airplane capable of flying three times the speed of sound, to be developed with support from Boeing and Rolls-Royce.
The project would be distinct from Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo suborbital space plane program, which is closing in on the start of commercial operations at Spaceport America in New Mexico.
The agreement also involves The Spaceship Company, a Virgin Galactic subsidiary that manufactures the SpaceShipTwo rocket plane and its WhiteKnightTwo mothership. The SpaceShipTwo model known as VSS Unity has already flown to the 50-mile-high edge of space twicein California, and this week it conducted its first gliding flight test at Spaceport America, its new home in New Mexico.
Take your pick of metaphors – rocketing, earth shattering, stratospheric - Virgin Galactic stock has been surging this year, up more than 200%. The Mojave-based company now has a market capitalization of $7.2 billion even though it only generated $3 million in revenue last year.